Tag Archives: cable television

Terrarium TV Will Die Soon

Last night the developer of television streaming app Terrarium TV announced the service will officially shut down at the end of this month. Terrarium TV was an extremely  popular television streaming app that was free for users of Android devices especially the Amazon Fire Stick. And best of all, it was free.

This is very bad news for cord cutters. Terrarium TV was beautifully simple to use because it avoided the use of torrents as a supply protocol. Instead Terrarium TV collected content from file-hosting sites much like Kodi add ons. The app was super easy to master making not so tech savvy cord cutters very happy.

Terrarium TV was the brainchild of a developer who went by the handle NitroXenon. His real name is Peter Chan and he lives in Hong Kong. Chan’s app became insanely popular in just a few short years.  Only a few other apps even came close to the number of users Terrarium TV entertained.

Terrarium TV became the first choice app for cord cutters looking for a television fix that offered literally thousands of shows and movies that many other services charged for. This made Terrarium TV a provider of stolen copyrighted content and basically illegal. But few users of the app cared.

But alas, the game is up.  Last night visitors to Terrarium TV saw a surprising notification from NitroXenon himself explaining that he has decided to shut the app down.  “It has always been a great pleasure to work on this project. However, it is time to say goodbye. I am going to shut down Terrarium TV, forever,” he wrote. “I know this day will come eventually. I know it would be hard to let go. But it is really time for me to move on to other projects.”

Terrarium TV you will be missed.

 

 

Your Cable Box is About to Die

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Courtesy: BrandonSigma

Cable television has been under relentless pressure for quite some time now. More and more Americans are simply cutting the cord. Tired of the high cost of cable programming bundles and equipment rental many people are finding streaming to be a better option. This fact is especially true for black people, who according to Pew Research watch more television than any other group.

The Internet and streaming media services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have shown American television watchers there is a cheaper, easier and more convenient way to watch television. 

A new survey from ComScore revealed that among 18-34 year old viewers 24 percent don’t subscribe to a traditional pay TV service. This is a prime demographic for advertisers. Of that group nearly 46 percent of those viewers never had cable to begin with, while the rest simply cut the cord. And the number of Americans moving away from cable television has been steadily growing since 2009.

Now the F.C.C. has turned up the heat on cable companies further by deciding to kill the cable box as we know it.

On Wednesday the Federal Communications Commission announced a proposal that would allow cable and satellite subscribers to pick the devices they use to watch television. Currently nearly all cable customers must rent those set top boxes from their cable companies and pay, on average, $231 a year for these devices. Looks as if those days are coming to an end.

The move would save the consumer plenty of money because they would pay a one time price for the new device. The move would permit tech companies like GoogleTV, Amazon and AppleTV to expand their footprint in the television markets by introducing technology that blends television and Internet. As you can imagine the television industry has fought this move for some time.  The reactions to the announcement has been predictable. Technology companies love it. Cable television hates it.

With a focus on improving the overall television experience the  F.C.C. is looking to remove a prime source of consumer complaints; the set top box, cable company restrictions and expensive long term contracts.  Tech companies like Apple and Amazon make devices that connect to televisions and have new interfaces, but they provide streaming Internet video and do not replace the cable box. Many blue ray disc players and gaming consoles also provide streaming entertainment. The objective is to blend these devices into a more streamlined device that does it all…for less.

F.C.C. Chairman Tom Wheeler said; “It’s time to unlock the set-top box market. Let’s let innovators create, and then let consumers choose.” Wheeler  wrote of the proposal on the technology news site Recode. According to the F.C.C. prices for other consumer technology such as smartphones has been on a steep downward spiral while estimates for set top box and other cable technology devices rose 185 percent over 20 years.

Opponents of the proposal believe that the industry was already providing more streaming options. The opponents said that F.C.C. intervention was not needed to spur innovation.

Cable companies have been slowly coming to the realization that streaming media is taking over and have been trying to adjust. Last November Time Warner Cable began a trial offering of cable television lineups through devices made by Roku. Charter Communications also offered its subscribers streaming TV through a Roku App. Cox Communications, an Atlanta-based cable company, allows customers to view programming through TiVo.

Television networks like HBO, Showtime and CBS recently introduced new offerings of à la carte offerings allowing customers to subscribe to an individual network without paying for the traditional full cable bundle.

Advocates believe that if the F.C.C. announcement is approved, consumers will see immediate savings.  Consumers could begin using just one device to access video content whether its video streaming online or cable television.

President and CEO of Consumer Reports, Marta Tellado,  said the changes were long overdue.

“With the ever-increasing price of cable and all of the advances in technology,” she said, “why should consumers have to keep renting a set-top box?”

 

 

Cable Television is Feeling The Heat

Slide1There is not a single black person who has not waited half a day for the cable technician to show up at our house; if they showed up. And who hasn’t put up with poor customer service and high cable bills for channels we don’t watch? You know the package where you get the two channels of you want and fifteen channels of crap! We have paid enough and put up with enough.

Video streaming is what’s happening now. The number of people dumping cable televison, or cutting the cord as some call it, is growing. Research conducted by TiVO subsidiary Digitalsmiths shows that 8.2 percent of former cable TV subscribers have cut the cord. That’s up a full percentage point from last year.  Another 45.2 percent reported having reduced their cable or satellite TV service during the same time frame. A practice known as cord shaving. These stats are putting huge pressure on the cable television industry.

Cord shaving consumers are chosing to go with smaller pay TV bundles. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video are becoming the video entertainment of choice. Why? Convenience is the first thing that comes to mind. Anywhere, anytime is a very appealing option. Second is the cost, streaming video services are significantly cheaper than cable television. Third, the shows people know and love are there for the viewing. And finally, cable customer service sucks!

Cable companies are feeling the heat. Verizon FIOS is the first major cable provider to go for the ala carte menu. They now allow cable customers to pick and choose what channels they want to pay for. But in defense of the cable companies they were in a bad position. Many media companies demanded that if the cable company offers one network they had to offer all of them. The result was expensive cable bills for the consumer.

Cable companies are also offering you that DVR thing that costs you so much a month to use but never own. Welcome to the age of the Internet, video streaming, on demand, wherever we want it. NOW! Its becoming obvious that the cable television business model is slowly dying.

Many people are worried about their Internet service and live programming like sports. But that is no longer a concern either. Keeping basic cable and Internet has always been an option. And new streaming services like SlingTV from DISH Network will provide ESPN and ESPN 2 for just $20 a month. You can get other ESPN channels for just $5 more.  And lets not forget that live sports will eventually become a regular part of the streaming media package. Yahoo will stream a live NFL game on October 25th. Its a sign of things to come. Other interesting services that are coming into the marketplace include HBO’s new service HBO Now. This allows you to stream HBO programs and movies as a stand alone service.

But lets get back to the cost of cable television. It is not unheard of for cable bills to be as high as $200 a month. African-Americans need to look at their bill and really make some hard choices about their cable package.  Black families can get an idea of the money they may save by using the interactive calculator provided by MarketWatch.com.

According to the survey 15.3 percent of consumers are planning to either switch, change, or cut the cord completely to cable television service.

Streaming media services offer original programming that is recieving high acclaim. Orange Is The New Black is an extremely popular program that is only available on Netflix. One of the most popular shows in the history of telelvision, Seinfeld, is now available on Hulu Plus. Another one of televisions hottest shows, Empire, is also streaming on Hulu Plus.

Cutting your cable may be a no brainer for some people. For others its a decision that may take some thought. But the bottom line is cable television is being threatened by a new technology with better choices and convenience.  Cable televison operators are fighting to stay in the game but its not looking good. I can take my tablet, laptop or cell phone anywhere and watch whatever I want, when I want.

Internet Spying: Your Home is Full of Snitches

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Courtesy of Image go

A lot of African-Americans are going to be extremely surprised by what I am about to tell you. Your home is full of snitches. Everything in it is spying on you. And not just your home. Your car is a snitch as well.

Black people are extremely averse to having our business in the streets. We believe in minding our own business and reminding you to stay out of ours. But we live in the information age and things have become very open and complicated. Technology has gotten to the point where you can’t do much or anything or go anywhere without someone knowing exactly what you are doing. 

AACR Rule #11, Information is the currency and commodity of the digital age.

Let’s look at the devices in your home that are telling your business.

1) Televisions – Black men love a big screen television with all the tricks and features. You gotta have it to watch the game. But these new smart TVs can and do track what you watch. Electronics manufacturer LG makes televisions that not only spy on what channels you’re watching but sends the names of files on thumb drives connected to the set back to LG. Hackers can also hack some models of Samsung smart TVs and use them as instruments to steal data from your network and all the devices connected to it. And are you ready for this? Hackers can even watch you through the webcam built into the television.

2) Your DVR/Cable-Box/Satellite-TV ReceiverNow even if your television is not spying on you then your cable box may be doing the job. Those set top boxes do more than bring you cable television. They can also provide your Internet service. So everything you watch on television and do online is recorded somewhere. Cable providers can track what you are watching and recording. They use this information to target ads more efficiently. Did you read your service contract? You may have agreed to allow the cable company to sell this information and even turn it over to the government.

3) Kitchen Appliances – Yeah; the newest refrigerators and other high tech kitchen appliances are connected to your home network allowing for great convenience and energy savings. But there is a catch; spying and security risks. So what can a kitchen appliance tell someone about you? How about when you wake up in the morning. That connected coffee maker is a snitch. If you have a refrigerator with a barcode reader it will tell someone your shopping habits. Smart kitchen appliances have had known security vulnerabilities for some time now. Can you believe there is a documented instance where hackers were using a smart refrigerator in a malicious email attack. I’m not joking! Hackers successfully used a smart fridge to send out malicious emails.

4) Cell Phones – If this comes as a surprise to you then you clearly have not been paying attaention. Your cell provider may be following your everymove, call and text. This information includes whom you communicate with and your location. This also includes the various apps you load on to your phone. Haven’t you heard about Angry Birds That and other apps may track other more detailed activity. Some apps will sync your phone contact list with the app the providers’ servers by default.

5) Your Webcam or Home Security Cameras Malware on your computer can operate your computer webcam  and record you or your family. That’s right. That webcam may be busy taking photos or video and you think the camera is off. Some notable people have found themselves the target of blackmail from a hacker who captured compromising images. Miss Teen USA was blackmailed by a hacker who took control of her laptop’s webcam. The hacker photographed her naked and demanded more images. Your home security cameras are vulnerable as well. Malware on computers could intercept transmissions from your home security cameras. These cameras are attached to your network and allow you to watch your homes from anywhere. Once hacked a criminal can see you’re not home or, more frightening, who is at home.

6) Your Telephone – You got the bundle right? Phone, internet and television service all in one. All using your home network and router. Easy pickings especially if you have not changed your router default password. Look at your phone bill. Every call, every number you dialed and every incoming call is listed and how long you were on the call. Its all there. And the provider has it too. See #1 & 2.

7.)  Lighting, Home Entertainment System, Home Security System – Can you turn on the lights from your cell phone? Open the garage door? What about your home alarm system? All these things are controlled via the Internet. Very convenient.  But ask yourself if this information is available to outsiders?  Is your security company recording your coming and going? What about your home entertainment system? Do you have a DVD player that streams Netflix? Do you stream music over your home stereo? This information is  relayed to manufacturers of the equipment as well as the supplier of the music or programming. Remember that anything that connects to the Internet can be hacked.

8) The house thermostat (s) Internet connected thermostats are now on the market. These devices provide convenience and energy savings. And the energy companies learn your habits and preferences. Google’s recently purchased the Nest thermostat maker. And keep in mind that Google is a notorious information collector. Your utility company may offer comparable devices to help you save on your energy bills. But what else is that thermostat or better versions that are sure to come telling your utility company?

9) Your Medical Devices This should definitely shock you but its not anything new. Medical devices such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, and other medical devices can and have been hacked. But even if they have not been hacked these devices may still be spying on you. Some pacemakers can transmit patient status information over the Internet allowing the doctor to monitor the patient.  Could this information be intercepted? What if a hacker transmitted phony information to the doctor? Also known as a man-in-the-middle attack.  And please forgive me thinking like this, but what if a hacker took control of a pacemaker or insulin pump? Would that be the perfect murder?

10) Your car – You have GPS don’t you? What about Bluetooth? Pandora radio? What about EzPass or other toll taking devices? Wherever you drive you can be tracked. Cars are the latest target of hackers because more and more come with Internet connectivity and some even act a WiFi hot spots. But what about how you drive? Some insurance companies are now offering devices that track your driving habits in exchange for insurance discounts. Progressive insurance uses a device called a SnapShot. It tracks your driving habits for 30 days and then adjusts your rates accordingly.

11) Your gun! – America loves its guns and it seems everyone has one at home. Is this a privacy issue? As firearms technology advances we may see the day of the  “smartgun.” A weapon that is computerized with various safety features meant to prevent accidents and unauthorized use. Such as by a child or someone other than the owner. Look for these on the market soon.  But can these devices be used to spy on the owner? Can the gun be remotely disabled by a hacker or law enforcement? Would the government be interested in such a high tech measure? Could a citizen or criminal be tracked by following his gun? Could a stolen firearm be tracked or how about illegal gun sales. And what would the NRA say about it? Stay tuned!

Now You Know

 

 

 

Cable Television: Are Black People Paying Too Much?

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Is that cable television bill really worth it? Black people sometimes pay too much. Sometimes by design, sometimes because we don’t explore all our options. So take a close look at your cable television bill and ask if it is really worth it. Television has changed so much in the last three years, thanks to the Internet, that you can probably shut off or at least reduce your cable television bill significantly. Let’s look at the options that can save you a lot of money.

You could just dump your cable altogether. Just get the basic channels and call it a day. But I’m willing to bet that will still cost you just shy of $100 a month. And you will probably miss some of your favorite shows that are only on cable.

Here is better option, Netflix. If you own a smart television, a television that is capable of internet connection, you’re on your way. Netflix is only $7.99 a month and you can pretty much watch whatever you want when you want on whatever device you have. Netflix offers a huge library of films and television programs and they have not ignored the African-American market when it comes to selections. You can find Tyler Perry movies and programs, stars like Kevin Hart and other popular programs like Breaking Bad. Do the math; $7.99 is a lot cheaper than the $200 a month you might be paying for premium cable.

Another popular choice is Hulu.com. This service also offers great programs that include The Voice, new programs like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Rake and yes, Scandal. You can try both Netflix and Hulu free for a trial period.

Another way to lower or eliminate that cable bill is to use devices like Chromecast or Apple TV. Both are network appliances that enable you to download content from the Internet including Netflix and Hulu. These devices are inexpensive one time purchases. How much are you paying each month to rent multiple cable boxes and DVR’s?

These services and devices do have a drawback. You probably won’t get to watch live sports and ESPN, NFL and NBA networks are not available. And we know missing the Final Four is not an option!  So some basic cable may be necessary. But again, I am willing to bet your television expenses will drop considerably.

The growing trend is television on demand. It makes sense; people are demanding more flexibility.  Black people should explore these services and devices  and keep some of that money in our pocket. I am not going to say that you will find everything you want but you should find plenty of viewing options and some you have not considered. You will discover that your television watching habits will change more to your liking. You might be surprised to find that you can subscribe to multiple services for much less than your current cable bill.

Now You Know